NASA aircraft to track Japanese spacecraft re-entry

June 10, 2010

(AP) -- A NASA flying observatory has left California on a mission to track a Japanese asteroid-sampling spacecraft as it returns to Earth on a course for Australia.

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center says its DC-8 airborne lab left Palmdale Tuesday evening, carrying scientists from the U.S. and Japanese space agencies and other organizations.

The group will study the meteor-like plunge of the Hyabusa , which visited the asteroid Itokawa during a seven-year mission and is carrying a capsule that may contain a sample from the space rock.

The spacecraft will break up, but the capsule is targeted to land in Australia's Woomera Prohibited Area at about 7 a.m. PDT Sunday.

Japanese controllers overcame major problems with Hyabusa's ion engines and a loss of communications to put the craft on a return course.

Explore further: Japanese space probe Hayabusa close to home


Related Stories

Japanese space probe Hayabusa close to home

June 8, 2010

( -- Hayabusa, the Japanese space probe launched in 2003, is returning home from its five-billion-kilometer round-trip journey to collect samples from the asteroid 25143 Itokawa.

NASA green lights April 5 launch of Discovery

March 27, 2010

The US space agency NASA gave its thumbs up for the April 5 launch of the shuttle Discovery, which will take a seven-member crew, including a Japanese astronaut, to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA Stardust Capsule To Go On Display At Smithsonian

September 26, 2008

( -- Having returned the world's first particles from a comet, NASA's Stardust sample return capsule will join the collection of flight icons in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The ...

Stardust placed into hibernation mode

January 31, 2006

NASA's Stardust spacecraft was placed into hibernation mode yesterday. Stardust successfully returned to Earth samples of a comet via its sample return capsule on Jan. 15. The spacecraft has logged almost seven years of flight. ...

Recommended for you

STEREO—10 years of revolutionary solar views

October 26, 2016

Launched 10 years ago, on Oct. 25, 2006, the twin spacecraft of NASA's STEREO mission – short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory – have given us unprecedented views of the sun, including the first-ever simultaneous ...

Image: Changing colors in Saturn's pole

October 26, 2016

These two natural color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the changing appearance of Saturn's north polar region between 2012 and 2016.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.